Australia has been granted observer status of a four-strong Latin American alliance, as a further step in what Trade and Competitiveness Minister Craig Emerson sees as a wider Asia-Pacific trade area.
Peru, Chile, Mexico and Colombia - which form the Pacific Alliance - agreed at a recent meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, to Australia becoming an observer of their trade and political negotiations.
As an observer, Australia will be better placed to work with the Pacific-facing nations - with a combined GDP of more than US$2 trillion - towards wider economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region.
"These four countries are like-minded in their pursuit of open trade and value Australia's familiarity with the Asia-Pacific," Dr Emerson said.
"Australia is well-placed to act as a connecting rod between Latin America and Asia, as we pursue a broader free trade area of the Asia-Pacific region," he said.
Australia is also in negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement involving 11 Asia-Pacific countries. Mexico, Chile and Peru are also part of these negotiations.
Australian companies are active in Pacific Alliance member countries, especially in the mining and energy sector.
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